Part XIV

Stonewall Jackson In The Valley.

       General McClellan's plan of campaign was to enlarge and equip an army for an advance against Richmond which would be so powerful as to be unaffected in its movements by any diversion the Confederate government could make, but the operations of Stonewall Jackson in the Valley of Virginia became an interference at the beginning and an obstacle in the end, which contributed to the defeat of the main movement. With a few thousand men this remarkable military genius forced the management at Washington to consider him at every turn of affairs. Although repulsed now and then, his subsequent maneuvers caused the employment of great numbers of the enemy in chasing him, a chasing that led them to defeat. The forces of Shields, Milroy, Fremont, Schenck and Banks felt his power in several encounters, and it was the defeat of these generals while McClellan was moving away from Washington that alarmed the administration. The orders to protect Washington became more stringent, and while they were in process of execution by a concentration of Federal troops in Luray valley, Jackson suddenly and rapidly moved to the vicinity of Richmond.
       While Jackson was closing up his series of brilliant actions by the signal defeat of Shields at Port Republic and marching his victorious regiments toward the army of Lee, J. E. B. Stuart rode around the army of McClellan, and returning in safety with many prisoners as Jackson approached, joined in the battles around Richmond, which began with Mechanicsville and ended at Malvern hill.
       On the day after the battle of Seven Pines, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who since March 13th had had control of the military operations of all the Confederate armies, was directed by President Davis to take personal command of the army then defending Richmond. Under his skillful directions the fortifications around the Confederate capital had been made strong, and on assuming command of the army of Northern Virginia he proceeded at once to make its position secure against attack, and "to enhance its efficiency and strength by every means in his power, so as to justify aggressive movements."
       According to an estimate of the strength of the army of Northern Virginia at the beginning of the Seven Days' battles, made in the office of the adjutant-general from the army field returns, Lee began the battle of Cold Harbor, June 27th, with 73,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 4,000 artillery. These numbers included the divisions of G. W. Smith, Longstreet, Magruder, D. H. Hill, A. P. Hill, Stonewall Jackson, Huger, Whiting, Ewell and Holmes, comprising thirty-nine brigades of infantry besides Stuart's cavalry and the artillery, making a total strength, in all arms, of 80,000. General Lee stated in November, 1865, that the estimate made in the adjutant-general's office at Richmond of the Confederate strength at the chief battles, appeared to him to be larger than the true number. General Early placed Lee's strength under 80,000 effectives. Colonel Taylor, after elaborate calculations, stated the number at 80,835.
       The official returns of McClellan's armies show that at the beginning of the battles around Richmond there were present for duty 115,249 men. This superior force, equipped with whatsoever a powerful government could furnish, had reached a position within 4 miles of Richmond, only to be driven back to the James river with a loss of nearly 20,000. Transferred thence, under a quick change of commanders from McClellan to Pope, it attempted another advance, with the hope of a change from defeat to victory, but only to be vanquished again at Cedar Mountain and Manassas Junction, after which, early in September, the great army under the boastful Pope took refuge again within the fortifications about the capital of the United States.

This Page last updated 02/10/02